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The India South Africa Waiver Proposal: documents and commentary

The Covid pandemic continues, out of control in many countries. There are several vaccines which have been approved by national authorities and in some cases by WHO. However, huge advanced purchases by the US, UK, Europe and some other wealthy countries, will mean that the availability of vaccines for most people in low and middle income countries could be delayed for several years.

In May 2020 WHO proposed a Covid – Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) designed to share knowledge to rapidly scale up vaccine production but the vaccine companies refused to participate.

In October 2020, at the WTO’s TRIPS Council, India and South Africa proposed that the WTO waive the application of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the duration of the pandemic with a view to facilitating wider access to technologies necessary for the production of vaccines and medicines. The rapid scaling up of local production will be critical in order to ensure wide access to affordable and effective vaccines.

The waiver proposal has been blocked at the TRIPS Council and the WTO ministerial Council but the negotiations are still proceeding. If the waiver is to be adopted strong clear advocacy is needed now, particularly directed to those governments who were uncertain or apprehensive about supporting the proposal in the TRIPS Council.

  • Details regarding the proposal and negotiations
  • Op-eds, media reports and blogs
  • Statements and advocacy

Proposal and negotiations

“Global approach” based on TRIPS waiver needed to combat Covid-19 (TWN, 29/1/21)

Proponents of TRIPS waiver call for text-based negotiations (TWN, 25/1/21)

Proponents of TRIPS waiver issue documents to facilitate discussions (TWN, 19/1/21)

Opponents of TRIPS waiver asked to respond to questions by proponents (TWN, 15/1/21)

Road ahead for greater deliberation in 2021: TRIPS waiver proposal at WTO (Patnaik, 19 Dec 2020)

EU Statements at the WTO General Council (18 December 2020)

UK statements to WTO General Council (17 Dec 2020)

India’s statement to WTO General Council (16 Dec 2020)

At WTO, a battle for access to COVID-19 vaccines (Devex, 15 Dec 2020)

TRIPS waiver gains more support despite efforts to stall its passage (TWN, 14/12/20)

Countries fail to reach consensus on TRIPS waiver proposal (Patnaik, 11Dec 2020)

Members to continue discussion on proposal for temporary IP waiver in response to COVID-19 (WTO, 10 Dec 2020)

India-South Africa proposal for a waiver from certain
obligations under the TRIPS Agreement (Biswajit Dhar and K.M. Gopakumar, 8 Dec 2020)

Presentation by Yuanqiong HU, MSF at PHM Briefing, 6 Nov 2020

Presentation by Sangeeta Shashikant, TWN at PHM Briefing, 6 Nov 2020

Legge (4 Nov 20) Proposed TRIPS waiver hangs in the balance: urgent call for national advocacy

A briefing document by MSF on the Importance of Waiver from TRIPS Obligations, (8 October)

The Waiver Proposal (IP/C/W/669) (TRIPS, 2 October, 2020)

Op-eds, Media Reports and Blogs

U.S., others defend IP rights as waiver backers push for text-based talks (Inside US Trade, 4/2/21)

EU MEPs back India-South Africa proposal for waiver (Big News, 5/2/21)

COVID-19: Vaccines war underscores need for TRIPS waiver at WTO (TWN, 29 Jan 2021)

Dummy’s guide to how trade rules affect access to COVID-19 vaccines (The Conversation, 10/1/21)

It’s Time to Use Eminent Domain on the Coronavirus Vaccines (Foreign Policy, 29 Dec 2020)

How to protect taxpayers’ investments in COVID-19 vaccines (Doggett and Duan, 17 Dec 2020)

Pfizer Helped Create the Global Patent Rules. Now it’s Using Them to Undercut Access to the Covid Vaccine (Lazare, 17 Dec 2020)

Intellectual Property Monopolies Block Vaccine Access (Chowdhury and Sundaram, 15 Dec 2020)

Rein in the vaccine nationalism, the profiteering. (The Hindu, 27 Nov, 2020.

COVID-19: The world needs to back India and South Africa’s call to remove TRIPS hurdles. 16 Nov 2020. The Caravan.

Global Trade Watch blog, Nov 2, 2020: COVID-19 Vaccine Access vs. Trump Trade Protections for Pharma

WHO DG’s tweet:

Huge global civil society support for South Africa and India on COVID-19 patent waiver, but WTO delays, 20.10.2020:

South Africa, India strongly rebut arguments against TRIPS waiver, 20.10.2020:

Proposal for TRIPS waiver secures strong support from South, 20.10. 2020:

Covid-19: US, EU block India’s fight for IPR waiver for drugs, 19.10. 2020;

WHO backs India & South Africa’s IPR waiver proposal to WTO for Covid treatment, 19.10.2020:

No consensus on India-South Africa’s WTO proposal to waive off patent rights for COVID-19 innovation, 18.10.2020:

WHO lends support to IP-waiver proposal from South Africa, India. 18.10.2020:

Safeguarding the World’s Response to COVID-19 from the Intellectual Property Police, 17:10.2020:

IP waiver for Covid products: Civil society groups back India, South Africa proposal; write to WTO, 15.10.2020:

CSOs call for strong support for TRIPS waiver to combat COVID-19, 16 October 2020:

WTO TRIPS Council (October 2020): South Africa issues clarion call urging support for TRIPS waiver proposal, 16.10.2020:

WTO: A missed opportunity to put people before patents, 16.10.2020:

CSOs Demand Suspension of Intellectual Property Protection during COVID-19, 15.10.2020:

We can’t let the WTO get in the way of a ‘people’s vaccine’, 15.10.2020:

Hundreds of advocacy groups urge WTO to waive IP rights to Covid-19 drugs and vaccines 14.10.2020:

International civil groups back India’s move on TRIPS waiver for Covid cure, 14.10.20:

WTO enters Covid pandemic fray with dispute over patent rights, 14.10.2020:

 MSF hails SA’s and India’s ‘landmark move’ on COVID-19 drug patents, 14.10.2020:

The Indian/South African Proposal For a WTO Waiver On IP For COVID-19 Related Health Products – What It Means? 14.10.2020:

Avoiding patents for Covid-19 vaccines, 12.10.2020:

COVID-19 Crisis and WTO: Why India and South Africa’s Proposal on Intellectual Property is Important, 12.10.2020:

Will Africa’s best shot at a Covid-19 vaccine be enough? 12.10.2020:

South Africa and India’s Proposal to Waive Recognition and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights for COVID-19 Medical Technologies Deserves Universal Support, But Countries Also Have to Take Domestic Measures (11.10.2020):

India, S Africa move WTO; want Covid-19 drugs, vaccines freed of IPR, patent rules (10.10.2020):

Impending row over Covid vaccine patents at WTO, 10 oct 2020:

Who is really afraid of the TRIPS agreement? (09.10.2020):–73746

SJM: Revoke Remdesivir patent, bring down price (9 October 2020):

L’Inde et l’Afrique du Sud demandent conjointement à l’OMC une dérogation limitée dans le temps dans les lois sur les DPI (07.10.2020):

L’Afrique du Sud demande la levée des barrières commerciales sur les traitements anti-covid-19 pour les pays pauvres (06.10.2020):

India, South Africa move WTO, want Covid drugs, vaccines freed of IPR, patent rules (05.10.2020):

Coronavirus: l’Afrique du Sud et l’Inde poussent pour alléger les règles de l’OMC (5.10.2020):

L’Inde et l’Afrique du Sud demandent à l’OMC d’assouplir les règles de propriété intellectuelle pour le COVID-19 (04.10.2020):

India and South Africa demand waiver of certain provisions of Intellectual Property for Covid-19 therapeutics (3.10.2020):

India, South Africa seek waiver of patents, intellectual property of Covid-19 drugs, 3.10.2020:

India, S. Africa move WTO on COVID-19 prevention, treatment (3.20.2020):

Statements and advocacy


Draft letter to Australian ministers (9 Nov 2020)

Draft letter to WTO Members urging support for the waiver and referring to the Eight Questions (8 Dec)

AVAAZ Petition (9 Dec 2020)

Statement of India  at and South Africa at introducing the proposal and rebuttal of some common developed country points.

UK Statement to the TRIPS Council: Item 15 waiver proposal for COVID-19:

Norwegian Statement in regards to a proposal from Eswatini, India, Kenya and South Africa for a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of Civid-19:

European Union dismisses concerns that IPRs are a barrier to COVID-19 medicines and technologies:

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) international, 7 Oct 2020:;

Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative. DNDi statement on India and South Africa request to WTO to waive IP rules for COVID-19 health tools, 12 Oct 2020:;

Unitaid supports call for intellectual property waivers and action for access to COVID-19 products, 13 Oct 2020:;


 Statement by H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, 15 Oct 2020:

Civil Society Letter (signed by more than 400 organizations), 14 oct 2020:

Progressive International:

South Africa-Affiliated Academics, Researchers and Teachers Letter to President Ramaphosa:

-Chilean House of Representatives passes a Resolution requesting the Government to support at the Trips Council the Indian and South Africa proposal regarding a waiver out trips obligation to fight Covid 19

-Simon Lester from Cato Institute “Who Will Get the Coronavirus Vaccines and When?”: Waiving TRIPS Rules To Fight COVID-19 at

-Brazilian CSO letter in support of the waiver Proposal at (in English at

WHO’s support for the proposal:

Also in

Further documentation

Emerging patent disputes that may impact manufacturing and supply of medical products

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech, Regeneron sued for patent infringement with COVID-19 products;
  2. Lawsuit reveals intellectual property is holding back production of CEPI- and Gates Foundation-funded COVID-19 vaccine candidate,
  3. Pandemic intellectual property dispute deepens as Inovio is countersued, leaving its COVID-19 candidate in limbo, 202020%20Hammond.pdf;
  4. Patent dispute looms as a major complication for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine,